The Penguins may go home with some hardware this summer, but a Stanley Cup won’t be among the awards.
Philadelphia blocked 40 shots and got first period goals from Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell to eliminate Pittsburgh en route to a 5-1 victory.
Giroux set the early tone for Philadelphia, leveling Sidney Crosby just seconds into the game and following up the big hit with his sixth goal of the series.
Penguins winger Steve Sullivan corralled the puck inside the Pittsburgh blueline before lofting a weak clearing attempt to the stick of Giroux. Marc-Andre Fleury had no chance as the playoffs’ leading scorer snapped a wrist shot past him 32 seconds into the game.
Pittsburgh slowly wrestled back the momentum before Matt Cooke was called for interference with 7:22 left in the first frame.
Philadelphia wasted no time on the ensuing powerplay.
Giroux’s one-timer from the left wing found its way between Fleury’s legs before Scott Hartnell jammed the loose puck behind the Penguins netminder.
The NHL’s third ranked penalty kill has continually been burnt by Philadelphia’s cross-ice pass and was once again on the Hartnell’s goal. Philadelphia’s tally set a franchise record for most powerplay goals in one series with 12.
Philadelphia was on the attack again late in the first when Pittsburgh rookie defenseman Simon Despres tripped Hartnell on a partial breakaway. Nothing came of the man-advantage though, as Fleury and Pascal Dupuis teamed to kill the minor.
After a shaky start Fleury seemed to have righted the ship near the end of the first period, saving eight of the Flyers final nine shots in the frame.
The 42-game-winner thwarted a Flyers odd man rush less than four minutes into the second period only to surrender a fluttering goal to Erik Gustafsson 35 seconds later. Gustafsson’s shot appeared to be deflected by defenseman Zbynek Michalek just inside the Penguins blueline.
Pittsburgh countered the marker by drawing a penalty at the midway point of the second.
Following a near goal on a Flyers shorthanded rush, Art Ross winner Evgeni Malkin swooped through the Flyers zone and whipped a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov to pull the Penguins within two.
It was only 1:26 after Malkin’s goal that Philadelphia responded, however, as Danny Briere potted his fifth of the series.
Again the Penguins appeared to regain control when Hartnell hauled down Kris Letang just moments after the Flyers goal.
Pittsburgh’s powerplay—which ranked second in the league entering the game—failed to capitalize. The unit finished 0-5 on the day.
The teams swapped third period penalties before Pittsburgh was given one final chance at a comeback when the Flyers cleared the puck over the glass for delay of game with 3:15 remaining.
James Neal scored just 13 seconds later but the goal was waved off after it was deemed that Neal pushed Bryzgalov with the puck into the net.
Fittingly, Flyers rookie Brayden Schenn potted an empty net goal at 19:52 to put a period on the series. The goal was a microcosm of Philadelphia’s inexperienced rookies out-battling Pittsburgh’s veteran core all series long.
Pittsburgh was held to their lowest goal output since Tampa Bay shutout the Penguins in game 7 of the 2011-12 first round of the playoffs.
This is the first time the Penguins have failed to advance past the first round in consecutive years since 1997-98.